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Facebook app to measure offline conversations


Macquarie Graduate School of Management’s (MGSM) Dr Lars Groeger, lecturer in Management, has joined forces with one of Australia’s leading word-of-mouth marketing companies, Soup, to develop a custom-built Facebook survey app that taps into the social network’s data and maps the flow of offline conversations.

The app was recently put through its paces for a new beverage brand. A group of 360 participants were asked to complete a short survey and grant Soup permission to anonymously collect and analyse their friendship networks, representing 360 ‘Facebook friendship networks’, a total network of 77,000 ‘friends’ and over 600,000 ‘friendship ties’.

To sift through the data, Dr Groeger and Soup used social network analysis tools, enabling them to examine participants’ friendship networks in terms of their size, structure, overlap and key individuals.

So what did they discover? We’re so glad you asked…

  • Participants have, on average, 210 friends on Facebook, ranging from 50 to 1158 friends
  • 50% of participants stated that almost all of their ‘real offline friends and family’ are also their Facebook friends
  • 70% of conversation happened along very strong friendship ties; 27% between medium ties; and only 4% along weak ties
  • Conversation partners have up to 80% of their friends in common
  • More than 20% of total conversations across the campaign were multiple exposures, meaning that a participant had more than one conversation about the brand

Dr Groeger said: “This new app allows us to differentiate between frequency of conversations and actual reach. So far this has not been possible.”

“The implications are highly relevant for any marketing manager who wants to accurately compare a WOM campaign with other media channels in terms of reach, frequency and ROI.”

“While there has been a large amount of research into WOM and viral marketing, our knowledge about how WOM actually spreads from one person to another is limited and the topic remains a mystery for many marketing managers.”

“What Facebook and other social media platforms allow us to do [is] cut through these limitations and time constraints and instantly access vast networks.”

“We are trying to de-mystify the WOM phenomenon.”